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Sri Lanka’s Dispute Settlement Rate Achieves 70% Amid Legal Reforms

June 19, Colombo (LNW): Justice, Prison Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms Ministry Secretary M. N. Ranasinghe announced on Monday that the country’s dispute settlement process outside of court has been significantly strengthened, with an impressive settlement rate of nearly 70%, gaining international recognition.

At a press conference at the Presidential Media Centre, Ranasinghe detailed several initiatives aimed at improving access to justice. The Judicial Zoning Committee has proposed the establishment of new courts to serve rural areas. Consequently, a Tourism Court has been set up in Morawewa, with plans for additional courts in Medawachchiya, Kahatagasdigiliya, Nochchiyagama, Kalavanchikudi, Narammala, and Kalawana. Over the past two years, several new courts have been established.

Ranasinghe emphasized that from 2022 to 2024, Sri Lanka has seen unprecedented legal reforms, with 59 reforms passed in Parliament and more in progress. The Legal Draftsman Department prepared 273 drafts in 2022 and 299 drafts in 2023, supporting various ministries.

Efforts to digitize the judicial system have been highlighted as a major solution to expedite legal processes and foster economic development. The amendment of the Constitution increased the number of Supreme Court judges by 14, and 76 judicial officers were recruited in the last two years. Additionally, 34 individuals were promoted to High Court Judges, facilitating the establishment of new courts.

Significant legislative actions over the past two years include the enactment of the Anti-Corruption Bill, the Hydrology Bill, and amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. The recently enacted Regulation of Election Expenditure Bill mandates that candidates report their expenditures within 21 days of election results.

Additional Secretary (Legal) Piyumanthi Peiris noted that the Commercial High Court now allows proceedings entirely in English, and online hearings are underway. A new arbitration law has been submitted for approval to resolve cases outside traditional court settings.

Further advancements include the implementation of a Court Community Platform software and electronic systems for bail applications and payments. Digital display boards have been installed in several Colombo courts to manage courtroom crowds effectively.

Additional Secretary (Engineering) S. A. K. Subasinghe reported significant budget allocations for judicial infrastructure, resulting in the opening of court complexes in Ratnapura, Welimada, and Teldeniya, among other projects.

Government Analyst D. Seneviratne highlighted substantial increases in report issuances, reflecting departmental growth. Prisons Commissioner General H.M.T.N. Upuldeniya noted successful prison reforms aimed at reducing overcrowding and modernizing facilities.

The press conference underscored the Ministry’s commitment to legal reforms and the digitization of the judicial system, which are expected to enhance efficiency and support economic development in Sri Lanka.

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